Bin Brook Weir, Robinson College

Robinson College, Cambridge

Following an initial feasibility study and successful applications to the Environment Agency for the appropriate permissions, Robinson College has asked ICAX to install a water source heat pump to meet the base load of its heating and hot water requirements by heat exchange with Bin Brook, a tributory of the Cam, which runs through the college grounds.

A weir has been constructed across the brook, and water is circulated from the weir to the heat pump and back to the brook.

Surface water heat pump is chosen by Robinson College

The surface water heat pump at Robinson College transfers heat from Bin Brook to heat the college in winter and provide hot water all year round. ICAX is using heat pumps and a sophisticated energy management system to provide a totally automated system that balances the temperature in the building by heat exchange with the temperature of the water in the brook that runs through the college gardens.

A high temperature heat pump has been installed to deliver temperatures similar to those issued by the original gas boilers. The existing gas boilers are being retained as a back-up to supplement the water source heat pump on cold days.

ICAX Heat Pump Robinson College

The target is to offset approximately half of the College’s main building gas heating, with sustainable heat sourced from the heat energy in the water of the Bin Brook by heat transfer. This is the first weir to be given consent for construction by the Environment Agency in a decade. The Agency was particularly impressed by the design which facilitates the passage of eels up Bin Brook: it is hoped that this will make a valuable contribution to the recovery of eel numbers in the Cam waterway network. By moving from gas to this new sustainable heat source it is estimated that the College will save over 5,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the next twenty years.

The benefits of using a surface water heat pump are that this:

  • reduces the annual cost of heating (in conjunction with RHI income)
  • reduces carbon emissions by recycling heat from Bin Brook into the college
  • reduces annual maintenance needs
  • provides cooling in summer as well as heating in winter from one integrated system
  • installs a safe, silent, invisible heating system which meets all planning requirements
  • invests in a heating and cooling system that will last for generations
  • reduces the need to import or burn fuel in Cambridge.
High Temperature Ground Source Heat Pump

Air Quality

The ICAX heating installation at Robinson College emits no gases into the atmosphere and plays its part in improving the Air Quality in Cambridge.




See Robinson Heat Pump article in the Cambridge Independent.


See Ground Source Heating       See Ground Source Cooling    See Ground Source Energy